Not quite the same

Copy­cat Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret fash­ion shows are preva­lent in China, but their mo­tives don’t match

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - FRONT PAGE - By Zhang Xinyuan

Jac­que­line Jac­ques, a fe­male model from Brazil, has walked in at least 50 “Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret” fash­ion shows since ar­riv­ing in Bei­jing at the end of 2012.

“I wear dif­fer­ent

sorts of lin­gerie and bikini, and carry ex­quis­ite wings. I am an an­gel,” Jac­ques said.

“I didn’t get the chance to per­form at the orig­i­nal Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret fash­ion shows in the US, but so what, I walked at plenty of those shows in China,” Jac­ques joked.

In Novem­ber, the Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret fash­ion show will come to China for the first time, tak­ing place at Shang­hai’s MercedesBenz Are­nas. Sixty-one top-notch mod­els from around the world have al­ready con­firmed to at­tend the show, in­clud­ing su­per­mod­els Adri­ana, Alessan­dra and Candice.

How­ever, long be­fore the real Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret ac­tu­ally debuts in China, Chi­nese knock-offs of the show have al­ready flooded the coun­try.

Count­less Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret-style lin­gerie shows in which mod­els wear lin­geries and dif­fer­ent ac­ces­sories such as wings have been held at dif­fer­ent kinds of events, in­clud­ing sales pro­mo­tions and com­pa­nies’ an­nual meet­ings.

It’s not about un­der­wear

The rea­son Jac­ques came to China in the first place was for a knock-off Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret show.

A club in Bei­jing was hold­ing an opening event. In or­der to at­tract cus­tomers, they hired a group of for­eign mod­els for a Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret-themed lin­gerie show, and Jac­ques was one of them. Since then, she has been based in Bei­jing.

“The knock-off Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret shows are re­ally pop­u­lar in China. I have done a lot of them, prac­ti­cally in ev­ery part, ev­ery prov­ince of China,” Jac­ques said.

“A for­eign model friend of mine has even done such a show in the Ti­bet Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion,” she said.

“Al­most ev­ery model I know in China, for­eign and Chi­nese, have done plenty of Chi­nese knock-off Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret shows be­fore,” said Max Liu, founder and CEO of Fun Mod­els, an online plat­form for book­ing pro­fes­sional mod­els in China.

Fab­u­lous though they are, the knock­offs are fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent from the orig­i­nal one be­cause of their pur­pose.

“The dif­fer­ence is the pur­pose. Chi­nese knock-offs are not about the un­der­wear we are wear­ing, but about en­ter­tain­ing the public or at­tract­ing them to come to a pro­mo­tion event,” Jac­ques said.

“In China, the shows are mostly hosted at real es­tate mar­ket­ing events, en­ter­prise din­ners, and shop­ping malls; only a few are for Chi­nese un­der­wear brands,” Jac­ques said. “I think it is pretty weird to have an un­der­wear show dur­ing din­ner, but ap­par­ently Chi­nese peo­ple like it. I think they just want to make the event look fancier and more amus­ing.”

Liu, the mod­el­ing agent, agrees with Jac­ques’ opin­ion.

“The orig­i­nal Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret show is el­e­gantly or­ches­trated, and it’s about un­der­wear and that year’s fash­ion trend,” Liu said. “While China’s knock-offs are mainly for entertainment and getting peo­ple’s at­ten­tion. The qual­ity of knock-offs is also very dif­fer­ent; some are ex­quis­ite, and some are just tacky.”

Dream or em­bar­rass­ment?

Although the knock-offs copy the gear and fo­mula of the Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret, they don’t have the same mean­ing.

“The real Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret show is a dream to me,” Jac­ques sighed. “My idol is Alessan­dro, the Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret an­gel who is from the same coun­try as me.”

“Walk­ing in a Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret show rep­re­sents the peak of one’s mod­el­ing ca­reer; it would bring mod­el­ing to a new level,” Jac­ques said.

“The knock-off shows in China do not have that kind of ef­fect,” Jac­ques said. “I wish I could walk in a real one some­day. I heard the real Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret is com­ing to Shang­hai soon, and I am won­der­ing if I can join the con­test to be a model there.”

How­ever, Jac­ques did ad­mit that it’s quite en­joy­able to per­form in such shows in China.

“The au­di­ence in China are very nice. They be­have re­spect­fully with the mod­els, and they look at me like they are look­ing at some fa­mous stars – it’s re­ally ex­cit­ing and happy,” she said.

How­ever, in some cases, the shows turned into vul­gar­ity, and caused con­tro­versy about whether it was ap­pro­pri­ate to host a lin­gerie show to catch eye­balls.

Li Bing (pseu­do­nym), a 20-year-old girl, took part in a knock-off Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret show a year ago.

It was for pro­mot­ing a high-end restau­rant. The mod­els were asked to walk around in lin­gerie and with wings in the restau­rant, and then lie down on a ta­ble with lob­sters on their body.

Li needed the money at the time, so she took the job.

“I was not proud of the ex­pe­ri­ence. It was un­pro­fes­sional. I wouldn’t do such a thing again,” Li said.

“I can still re­mem­ber the cus­tomers took food from my body; it was al­most porno­graphic. I cried that night,” the girl said.

An­other in­ap­pro­pri­ate use of the Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret show hap­pened in Au­gust in Chengdu, Sichuan Prov­ince, where a shop­ping mall staged a Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret lin­gerie show fea­tur­ing lit­tle girls.

The event caused an out­cry online where ne­ti­zens con­demned the or­ga­nizer for us­ing sex­ual images of un­der­age girls, ac­cord­ing to a Daily Mail re­port in Au­gust.

“Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret is a brand that sells fash­ion. Af­ter all, it’s a lin­gerie brand,” Liu said. “Some Chi­nese peo­ple can ac­cept to see mod­els walk around in lin­gerie on stage now, but if they are pre­sented on the street, or use chil­dren as mod­els, peo­ple would have dif­fi­culty in ac­cept­ing that,” he said.

Peo­ple from West­ern coun­tries also took a long time to ac­cept lin­gerie and bikini mod­els. This kind of shows just came to China, so peo­ple still need time to digest, ac­cord­ing to Liu.

Is it fair to call it knock-off?

The pop­u­lar­ity of knock-off Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret shows in China re­flects the in­flu­ence of the brand in China.

“Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret is not only agala com­bin­ing the lin­gerie show, fash­ion and singing per­for­mance by pop stars to­gether, it has also be­come a trade­mark and a sym­bol. It’s not just about the lin­gerie, nearly-naked mod­els or wings any­more,” Liu said.

Pop stars such as Ri­hana and Marron who had per­formed on the shows be­fore played a very im­por­tant part in build­ing the show and its brand, Liu said.

As an agent in the in­dus­try, Liu does not agree with call­ing the Chi­nese lin­gerie shows a Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret knock-off.

“Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret doesn’t own the lin­gerie show con­cept,” Liu said.

“Lin­gerie show is a mod­el­ing genre, and peo­ple from ev­ery coun­try can adopt it. It doesn’t be­long to Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret only; it is just like you can’t say black peo­ple own hiphop, Chi­nese peo­ple own tra­di­tional dance, and no one else can do that,” Liu said.

“The lin­gerie show is still a new thing in China, I think as time goes by, its qual­ity will im­prove, and China may de­velop its trade­mark lin­gerie shows,” he said.

Photo: Cour­tesy of Jac­quline Jac­ques

Jac­quline Jac­ques, a model from Brazil liv­ing in Bei­jing, puts on Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret-style lin­gerie and wing for a real es­tate pro­mo­tion event in Bei­jing.

Photo: VCG

Chi­nese knock-offs of Vic­to­ria’s show have been very pop­u­lar in for pro­mo­tional events or comp meet­ings.

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